Making Health an Election Issue

The Kaiser Family Foundation has launched the website health08.org “to provide a central hub for resources and information about health policy issues in the 2008 election.” In a Boston Globe editorial, KFF president and CEO Drew Altman observes, “In a short period of time health has gone from an issue that was not even included on the list of seven issues voters were asked about on the national exit poll in last November’s election to the number one domestic issue and the number two issue overall behind Iraq on several recent polls.” Even so, he goes on to state, “There will no chance at legislation in the Congress in 2009 unless there is a big national debate about health reform in the presidential campaign.”

The site features news related to health and politics, analyses from KFF (on SCHIP, Medicare, state-by-state health data, and more), and the obligatory videos and podcasts. As of this morning, four of the ten items on the News page are about Republican candidates’ stance on abortion.

Although state races get a nod, the focus is clearly on the presidential campaign. Each declared Republican and Democratic presidential candidate gets his or her own page, which basically consists of links to health-related items on the candidate’s website.

Kaiser Family Foundation has long been a top resource for anyone interested in health policy; if you’re already a regular reader of KFF’s websites or emails, health08.org won’t give you much you’re not already seeing. For concerned voters who haven’t been avid followers of health issues before, though, this may be an accessible way to get more information and demonstrate concern for the issue. For candidates, it may be one more sign that health isn’t an issue they can handle with simple sound bites.

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